Post-deadline analysis: Pacific division

While the lead up to the trade deadline is full of intrigue, as NHL GMs try to fix their teams before the final bells goes, the truth is that those same GMs were able to make trades all year long. Many are held back due to tricky salary cap considerations, but some were able to swing NHL trades even before Ryan Miller moved to St. Louis. The aim of this series is to examine the dealings of each team this season (including the odd waiver wire move), looking at how each has changed its complexion on the fly and how those changes have affected the organizational outlook, for good or bad.

Anaheim

NHL players acquired since opening day: D Stephane Robidas

NHL players lost since opening day: LW Dustin Penner, G Viktor Fasth, C Peter Holland

After playing most of the season on the top line, it was a surprise to see Penner moved without a forward coming back at the deadline. The large winger had 32 points in 49 games and was a positive possession player. The deal to send Penner to Washington, however, opened up a spot on the top line for younger players to move up and play with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Another big winger Patrick Maroon has spent time there since Penner’s exit, but it would not be a shock to see Jakob Silfverberg or Kyle Palmeri see time there as well.

Sending a top line player out also opened up cap room to bring in the veteran Robidas, who will have a chance to assist in the post-season. While he has spent most of the season injured, the Dallas D-man can add puck possess, 5-on-5 offense and especially penalty killing. He has played around 50% of the Stars’ PK minutes over the past three seasons.

Anaheim’s trade to send Fasth to the Oilers opened up the backup goalie position to one of the best netminder prospects in the NHL Frederik Andersen, who is a fill-in improvement over Fasth.

Stronger or weaker – Stronger

San Jose

NHL players acquired since opening day: RW Mike Brown

NHL players lost since opening day: None

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Sharks are the second best team in the NHL in Fenwick Close, only trailing the Los Angeles Kings. They have an elite set of forwards with Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns and Logan Couture – a group which is complimented by a solid bunch of depth forwards such as Raffi Torres and Tommy Wingles. San Jose is just as good defensively with the massively underrated Marc-Edouard Vlasic leading D in Relative Corsi and despite facing difficult minutes.

With a Cup-winning goalie in net – one who had a .930 save percentage in 11 playoff games last season – there was no reason to make moves just to make them.

Stronger or weaker – Same. Were great, still great.

Los Angeles

NHL players acquired since opening day: RW Marian Gaborik

NHL players lost since opening day: LW Dan Carcillo, G Ben Scrivens, D Keaton Ellerby, Matt Frattin

The Kings are the NHL’s best puck possession team, but have struggled to put pucks in the net, especially on the power play. Going into the trade deadline, they ranked 29th in goals and 29th in power play percentage. The former Wild, Rangers and Blue Jackets sniper was a risky acquisition, but could ultimately give the Kings the boost they need come playoff time. Many of the players who have been sent out of LA were either addition by subtraction or – in Scrivens’ case – a surplus. Ellerby and Frattin are considered under-achieving players with loads of talent – both of which fell short of maximizing their skills with the Kings. The young defenseman Ellerby was picked up off waivers by the Jets, Frattin will get new life in Columbus. As for Carcillo, he is far from the hard-nosed pest (who, coincidentally, once fought Gaborik) he used to be.

Stronger or weaker – Stronger

Phoenix

NHL players added since opening day: LW Martin Erat

NHL players lost since opening day: D Rostislov Klesla, D David Rundblad

In a buyer’s market, the Coyotes only elected to buy a player with fewer goals than their goalie rather than search for a significant upgrade. Phoenix is an average team in every sense – they have allowed the same number of goals for as against at 5-on-5, they are mid-pack (18th) in Fenwick Close and are in ninth place in the West. While their possession numbers have been trending down, their management must have believed they could slip into the final playoff spot without an upgrade – but if a team ever needed one piece to give them an edge on the close competitors it is Phoenix. They have strong depth at forward, but below average scoring at the top. Unless Erat finds some serious new life or their Mike Ribero-run power play gets crazy hot, it seems a lack of moves at the deadline could cost the ‘Yotes any shot at the post-season.

Stronger or weaker – Same, and that’s not good enough for a post-season run

Vancouver

NHL players added since opening day: G Jacob Markstrom, F Shawn Matthias

NHL players lost since opening day: G Roberto Luongo, D Raphael Diaz

From the beginning of the John Tortorella era in Vancouver, something just has not been right with the Canucks. They were battling for a playoff spot when a rash of injuries kicked them in the teeth – to use Torts’ words. The Canucks lost two of their best defenseman Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieksa to long-term injury and have seen Alexandre Burrows, Dale Weise and Henrik Sedin placed on IR at different times.

The Luongo trade has been long in the making and that combined with attempts to trade Ryan Kesler give all the indications that Vancouver is interested in starting a rebuild. The bizarre trade for Raphael Diaz, then trade of Raphael Diaz, may be an indicator that that decision was made pretty recently. Markstrom is still considered a goalie prospect and Matthias is a quality (fairly) young third line player. It is possible they will both end up as part of the plan going forward. If there is one positive the Canucks can take away from this year, it is that they were able to move their expensive aging goalie.

Stronger or weaker – Weaker in talent now, stronger for the future…but only by a little

Calgary

NHL players added since opening day: RW Kevin Westgarth, D Ladislav Smid, Lee Stempniak

NHL players lost since opening day: G Reto Berra

The Flames – still without a general manager – could have put a few more eggs in the rebuild basket at the trade deadline. Moving Stempniak to Pittsburgh was a good start, but failing to find a suitor for scorer Mike Cammelleri should be considered a failure, even if the return was low. The Flames did redeem themselves, however, with the trade of Berra. The netminder was acquired by Colorado for a shocking second-round draft pick – well above the price of other deadline goalie moves. While they could not move all their UFA’s or any of the older players with multiple years on their contracts, the Flames still put themsleves in a good spot for a high draft pick and full-on rebuild.

Stronger or weaker – Stronger

Edmonton

NHL players added since opening day: D Mark Fraser, G Ben Scrivens, G Ilya Bryzgalov, Matt Hendricks

NHL players lost since opening day: G Devan Dubnyk, D Nick Schultz, Ladislav Smid, RW Mike Brown, Ales Hemsky

The Oilers came into the season with expectations of competing, but once again have fallen into the hole of poor defense and goaltending that has seemingly been dragging them down forever. They attempted several times to improve in net – and may have finally done so down the road if they are able to hang onto Scrivens – but did not get much better in the present. Dealing Bryzgalov and Hensky at the deadline was necessary and the return decent but not overwhelming. Already looking toward the off-season, the Oilers have to be crossing their fingers for expected top pick defenseman Aaron Ekblad and for Darnell Nurse to get ready soon. They also can use much better depth on their bottom six to support their skill players.

Stronger or weaker – Stronger

Matthew Coller is Managing Editor of Hockey Prospectus. He is the long-time host of Hockey Prospectus Radio, producer of the Howard Simon Show on Buffalo’s WGR550 and their Rochester Amerks reporter, and a multi-sport play-by-play announcer.

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Follow Matthew on Twitter at @matthewWGR.

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